Dystopian future, Fiction, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hawk by James Patterson-Book Review

Hello everyone and happy Friday to all.

Two things.

One, I have been agonizing over this review since late July. I kind of hit a reading/writing slump and failed to do much of anything all throughout August. That and, I really had so much to say about this book that I truly did not even know where to begin. I think I ended up scraping a total of 3 different versions of this review. But, I really wanted to cover EVERYTHING.

Two, this is a long one. Maximum Ride is my all time favorite series so I had a hard time keeping it short. There are moments where I feel like I am being overly critical, but this is my favorite series after all. Just keep in mind that while I took note of the small details that I bring up, they didn’t ruin the book for me. And, you shouldn’t let them ruin it for you either.

Also, spoilers!

Ten years have passed since Hawk’s parents stood her on a street corner in The City of the Dead and walked out of her life. Now, she barely remembers them and the many years without a single clue about their whereabouts have left Hawk bitter and confused about why she still shows up every day to that corner to wait for them.

Her life has not been an easy one. In The City of the Dead, the only thing more dangerous than the organized crime, is the government. Both of which have it out for Hawk and both of which seem to be one and the same.

After the labs where they experiment on people kidnap her friends, Hawk goes on a mission to rescue them, only to find someone she had just given up on ever seeing again, her dad. Hawk doesn’t want to believe that it is him or hear his excuses about why he left, but he offers her help to save her friends and after she fails to do it without him, she is forced to accept his help.

But, apart from saving her friends there is an even bigger mission at play, Hawk’s dad and his friends plan to liberate the entire city but to do that, they must first break Maximum Ride, Hawk’s mom, out of a high security prison.

My Review

I don’t know what happened but in the process of writing this review, I just had so many thoughts that I ended up completely unable to form one coherent sentence about my feelings towards this book.

To put it in the simplest of terms, I had very low expectations for this book and it actually surprised me in a good way. While it does have its flaws, Hawk was a fun read that I genuinely enjoyed reading.

Now, I have been following the Maximum Ride series since like 2007 or 2008, so you can say that I have been at all the ups and downs of the series. There has never been a book that has made me want to abandon the series all together. There are plot points that I wish didn’t exist but that’s beside the point.

What I find to be the great thing about Maximum Ride, is that the characters never fail to leave an impression on me. When I’m reading, these characters are so familiar and it is so nice returning to them, which is why Hawk wasn’t all that bad. I think it is very possible to have good characters within a bad plot

Starting this book though, my main goal was to  really try and have an open mind about everything. I didn’t want to have my mind made up to essentially hate the book before reading it and then going through looking for evidence to back that up. I think I did a good job at that. Mostly, it was just reminding myself, Hawk isn’t Max and her group of kids is not supposed to replace The Flock, basically don’t make comparisons where there doesn’t need to be.

Hawk had a lot going on. In writing the summary it was hard to ignore how fractured the plot is and how that ends up giving the book a sort of messy feel to it.

In the beginning we are introduced to Hawk and her small makeshift family of kids who have had various experiments done to them. When her family is kidnapped, it is clear that rescuing them will be Hawk’s main goal. But, then The Flock is introduced and their main goal is to save Max (Fang first but mainly Max).

While Hawk is very headstrong and adamant in her need to rescue her family coming first and above all else, she does eventually step away from them, leaving them behind. Yes, you can compare her to Max here and hate her all you want for the choices she makes. In my opinion the real issue here is that her decision to leave them behind destroys any connection you are supposed to feel for these new characters. And, these characters go through some things, actually. It’s just that once they are rescued and the story is still not over, they become more of a side note so anything else that happens to anyone of them is just not as hard hitting.   

The plot then turns to everyone working towards liberating the City of the Dead because apparently “that’s what The Flock does” now. This part of the book confuses me because the whole “liberating the city” thing seems like the main goal that all the characters are working towards. Yet, nothing that happens at the beginning of the book or even halfway through it, would make you think that this is what the character are supposed to be working towards, that this is the big picture. It’s just an idea that kind of presents itself in the end.

The world building in this book, covers the basics. Only considering the events in this book alone, I didn’t really have any issues with it. Now, when you get into world building continuity that carries over from the original Maximum Ride series, that’s where I start to have an issue. The timeline of events from where the last book in the Maximum Ride series ends and Hawk begins, just doesn’t make sense.

For those who may not have read the nine books in the original Maximum Ride series, at the end of book nine we see the literal apocalypse happen. Things are so bad that Max and her family (The Flock) must live underground, with hopes to resurface after many years.

For the events in Hawk to happen, it obviously could not have been all that many years. Hawk is about five or six years old when they leave her on the street corner. Meaning The Flock would have had to resurface after five or so years. Personally, I don’t think that’s nearly enough time for the Earth to heal from the literal apocalypse! Not to mention, The Flock apparently became revolutionaries, they helped all around the world. You don’t do that right after resurfacing. You don’t make enemies right away. Meaning the time they spent underground is cut even shorter.

The reason I connect this to world building in this book is that, the world Hawk (the character) lives in just doesn’t make sense either. If The Flock was living underground, aren’t we to assume other people should have been doing the same. So then why is it, that a mere six years after the apocalypse happens, Fang and Max are forced to abandoned their daughter in a partially developed city. I don’t know, it just strikes me as impossible to rebuild and develop a functioning city with a functioning governing system, even if that system is corrupt, in less than five or six years. And, we know for a fact that by the time Max and Fang leave their daughter in The City of the Dead the governing system was already in place because it was that system that created the prison Max got thrown into (and also created the laws she supposedly violated).

As far as characters go; I’m all for the original characters, not so much for the new ones. Like I said, there is no real connection to them.

Yet another example of this is how James Patterson tried to establish that “she’s my baby” Max and Angel (at the beginning of Angel Experiment) dynamic with Hawk and Calypso but then just didn’t follow through with it in the end. Calypso along with all of Hawks Lab Rats, just fade to mostly nothing. To me they just came across as throwaway characters.

Of course there can’t be another book set in the Maximum Ride universe without any mention of the flock, the fans would never forgive James Patterson. Also, even though this book was marketed to “the new generation of Maximum Ride” we all know most of us picking up this book have actually read through all of the previous books.

Anyways, The Flock is amazing, as expected but there are some small details that just don’t add up about their characters.

With Hawk set in the post-apocalyptic future, all of the characters are aged 10 years.  That would put Max, Fang and Iggy at around 25 or 26, Nudge at 23, The Gasman at 21, and Angel at 19 (give or take a year). At first I thought, none of them really act their age and still seem very much like the children they were all those years ago. After reading more and more, I was sad to realize that this is not the case with all of the members of The Flock, only Max. Granted maybe with Max it might have just been more noticeable because she is the only other character who tells the story from her point of view (POV).

Max reads very much like her fourteen fifteen year old self. There are a few scenes where she does come across more motherly, but usually it was in the context of Hawk feeling like Max was crossing the line and trying to have some authority over her. And, well, of course from Hawk’s POV Max is going to seem more mature and authoritative but when we actually have sections where we are reading Max’s thoughts, she just doesn’t strike me as an adult.

Max was not all there, and that is perhaps the biggest let down that actually got to me out of the entire book. Also, in terms of her character I feel like aspects of her were dimmed. In having Hawk as the protagonist of this book, Max does sort of take a back seat. This was totally expected but it was disappointing to see James Patterson essentially try to prop up one character (Hawk) at the cost of a character that has had tons and tons of development prior to this book. 

Which now that we are speaking about Hawk, I truly do not like her as a character. Primarily, it’s her character description. I feel like a big part of her character design was James Patterson just going like, “okay take Max, but make her edgy.” He gave her piercings, a mohawk, a “too cool” attitude, and tattoo wing eyebrows (which I could not for the life of me imagine how that actually looks like). She did grow on me a little, towards the end. I will say though; with Max,  she was such a great character that I would (and did) follow her through numerous not so great books, if Hawk did not exist within the context of the original series, I would not bother picking up the next book. 

On to the good stuff.

Nostalgia played a big role in why I liked this book, I’m not going to lie.

Like I said earlier a lot of the new characters were not very memorable but I found that I really enjoyed reading about The Flock in this book. There are little things about them that although small, show that they have somewhat changed over time but are still very much the same.

I want to say that, with the exception of Max of course, all the other original characters had something about them that added to their character (rather than take away). Nudge seemed very loving and surprisingly mature in the scenes that she appeared in, more so than Max. We didn’t get much Iggy content but I like how Hawk reacts to him, also the little bonding moment he had with Rain made me smile. The Gasman was more present in this book than he was in the original series. I really liked that because it really does give the impression that he is grown up and has taken on more responsibility. Also, his development makes me see him more as an equal to the older three, rather than just the little kid that got strung along after Max and Fang who made all the decisions. Fang also changed, he does give off more fatherly vibes. I think James Patterson does a better job portraying the pain and distress Fang goes through in loosing Hawk and Max on the same day, better than he does at portraying Max’s struggles and hopelessness while in the prison.

When I did finally finish the book, I definitely did not expect to walk away liking practically everyone more than I liked Max.

I know this isn’t exactly about this book, but going forward if James Patterson is really preparing to launch into a new series centered around Hawk, I would like to continue seeing characters that were kind of just there in the previous books take on that  leadership role. It be interesting to maybe see Hawk, The Gasman, and Angel, the ones closest in age, team up and take on a leadership role.

Because Fang is the only other character we get more of, not counting Max and Hawk, he is my favorite character both by default but also because he has always been my second favorite after Max.

Now I understood that heroes were more complicated than that. Heroes could get hurt, be angry, sad, scared. That didn’t make them less of a hero. Max and Fang, my parents, were heroes.”

Hawk pg. 401/James Patterson

I think his interactions with Hawk are very natural. He is a lot less awkward with her than Max is, even with the very present tension between them. My favorite scene actually, is when Hawk joins The Flock to go and rescue Max from a high security prison. Hawk basically lies to everyone and says, yes I can make the fly over to the prison, but of course she can’t. When she falls out of the sky, it was totally expected that Fang would rush to catch her but I especially like how she immediately says something like “I don’t need you” and Fang just drops her. Of course he catches her again but I think that it was a very Fang sort of tough love thing to do.

It made me laugh a lot and I had to reread the scene about three times, but I also interpreted that whole exchange as Fang showing her the way he loves people.

As we know Fang is not much of a talker, and he knows that maybe he will never find the right words to explain things to his daughter. But, he still wants to show her that regardless of what she says to him, if she needs him, he will be there for her. This is later echoed when Pietro arrives to talk to Hawk and although Hawk is allowed to go and talk to him, she is like one hundred percent sure Fang has his eyes on her, making sure Pietro is not a danger to her.  I think these are very sweet and light hearted father-daughter moments. I hope that the future has good things in store for Fang, Max and Hawk.

Hawk by James Patterson is not my favorite book, it is not even my favorite Maximum Ride book, but I had a lot of fun reading it. It was very average so I think 3 stars is a fair rating.

I would recommend this book to YA readers, technically you can read this book without knowing anything about the other books so if you don’t want to invest the time into a nine book series, you don’t have to.

I know a lot of long time fans of the series might not want to check this book out, but I recommend they do. Those few moments where The Flock appeared was where I found some redemption for this book.

P.S One last thing, I left this until the end because it doesn’t really have to do with what’s on the pages of the book.

I absolutely hated the marketing for this book. The whole narrative about how this book was supposed to be for “the new generation of Maximum Ride” is honestly what made me have such low expectations for this book.

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